Béla Bartók: Music for strings, percussion and celesta

Duration : 31 minutes

The Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France conducted by Alan Gilbert performs Béla Bartók's "Music for strings, percussion, and celesta". Excerpt from the concert recorded live on 16 March 2019 at the Radio France Auditorium.

Béla Bartók's Music for strings, percussion and celesta was premiered on 21 January 1937 by the Orchestre de Chambre de Bâle and its conductor Paul Sacher, who commissioned the work. It is one of the Hungarian composer's most celebrated works, occupying a special place in the composer's repertoire due to its instrumentation: double string quintet, percussion, piano, harp, and a celesta. In the different movements, Bartók uses a vast palette of timbres, drawing upon the particular characteristics of each instrument, notably the celesta and its crystalline sonority.

The work is divided into four movements: the first, Andante tranquillo, is a slow and progressive fugue, growing in volume until its final climax. The fugue's theme provides material for the following movements. The second movement, Allegro, lively and brutal, offers a sharp contrast to the first with its numerous rhythmic accents and syncopated piano. The third movement, Adagio, is a nocturnal music in which the celesta's mystery is fully revealed, used to perfection in a cult scene from Kubrick's The Shining in which Danny wanders through the hotel and suddenly sees the twin sisters who died in the very same hotel. The fourth and final movement, Allegro molto, is in the style of a strongly rhythmic Hungarian folk dance. 

Concert, from "The Shining" to "2001: A Space Odyssey"
Full concert
From "The Shining" to "2001: A Space Odyssey"
Maison de la Radio, Paris
Béla Bartok
All artists
  • Alan GilbertConductor
  • Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio FranceOrchestra